Tier 2 or 3? How Boris Johnson's lockdown has hit the royal family

Rebecca Taylor
·Royal Correspondent
·4-min read

Watch: Prince Charles meets NHS staff administering COVID-19 vaccine

The Queen’s mantra is said to be “I have to be seen to be believed”.

But that’s about to get much harder for Her Majesty as Windsor, where she is living at the moment, will soon enter Tier 3, the highest level of restrictions in the UK.

Windsor is in the Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead, where councillors had previously asked to go up from Tier 1 to Tier 2 in October.

At the weekend, the area will climb up to Tier 3, matching London, where the Queen’s grandson Prince William lives with his wife and their children.

It means the official guidance for the Queen and Prince William and the Cambridges is not to travel out of the area.

It also means they should work from home.

LONDON, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 18: Queen Elizabeth II appears on a screen by videolink from Windsor Castle, where she is in residence, during a virtual audience to receive Ambassador of Belgium Bruno van der Pluijm and Hildegarde Van de Voorde who attended at Buckingham Palace on December 18, 2020 in London, England. (Photo by Dominic Lipinski-WPA Pool/Getty Images)
Queen Elizabeth II appears on a screen by videolink from Windsor Castle, where she is in residence, during a virtual audience at Buckingham Palace. (Dominic Lipinski-WPA Pool/Getty Images)

Tier 2 guidance is also to work from home, but the royals had been able to plan some limited public face-to-face engagements within the guidelines.

With travel restricted, that will be even harder to do.

The Queen has already been carrying out some engagements via video call, and moved her audiences to video calls as well.

In Tier 3, it would be unlikely the palace would make more changes.

Meanwhile, in the US, Harry and Meghan, who don’t carry out engagements on behalf of the monarchy, find themselves in a near lockdown in their new home in California.

A stay home order came into effect in the first week in December, and requires people in Santa Barbara, where they live, to avoid mixing households.

There are only a select number of key industries open, like schools, non-urgent medical and dental care and critical infrastructure that can’t be done from home. Many others have to operate at significantly reduced capacities and with social distancing and mask wearing in place.

Watch: Prince William and Kate narrate ‘A Christmas Surprise’ to thank key workers

Read more: Only 7% of Britons interested in listening to Prince Harry and Meghan's podcasts - YouGov poll

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex have made a series of video appearances for causes they want to support but will have to limit the already small number of in-person events they can attend.

As well as Prince William and Kate, who live at Kensington Palace, there are other working royals who live in the capital.

London was placed into Tier 3 ahead of the review of the guidelines, because of the rising rate of infections.

The Duke and Duchess of Gloucester also live at Kensington Palace. They have carried out their engagements by telephone throughout the pandemic.

Princess Alexandra, who also carries out duties on behalf of her cousin, the Queen, lives in Richmond Park, so is also in Tier 3 of restrictions.

The Duke of Kent is the final royal Londoner, also living in Kensington.

Britain's Prince William, Duke of Cambridge, his wife Britain's Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, and their children Britain's Prince George of Cambridge (R), Britain's Princess Charlotte of Cambridge (3rd L) and Britain's Prince Louis of Cambridge (L) arrive to attend a special pantomime performance of The National Lotterys Pantoland  at London's Palladium Theatre in London on December 11, 2020, to thank key workers and their families for their efforts throughout the pandemic. (Photo by Aaron Chown / POOL / AFP) (Photo by AARON CHOWN/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)
William and Kate were able to make some public engagements in London before Tier 3 came in. (Aaron Chown/AFP)

The Queen has also needed her youngest son and daughter-in-law more throughout the pandemic, as restrictions and her age made it hard for her to carry out engagements.

But Prince Edward and Sophie, the Countess of Wessex, join Tier 3 the same time as the Queen, as they live in Surrey, where rates have sparked a move into the tougher level.

There’s only one part of Surrey - Waverley - where the level has stayed at Tier 2.

Thankfully, while London has traditionally been the centre of royal life, not all the royals are based there at the moment.

Prince Charles and Camilla moved back to Gloucestershire when they returned from Scotland in the summer, when lockdown restrictions eased.

And that area remains Tier 2, making it much easier for the couple to move around.

CIRENCESTER, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 18: Prince Charles, Prince of Wales, wearing a mask speaks to postal worker Tim Lafford (L) wearing a Father Christmas outfit during a visit to the Royal Mail's Delivery Office in Cirencester to recognise the vital public services that the country's postal workers provide, especially during the coronavirus pandemic and in the run-up to Christmas on December 18, 2020 in Cirencester, England.  (Photo by Geoff Caddick - WPA Pool / Getty Images)
Charles was able to go out for an engagement on 18 December, where he spoke to Tim Lafford (L), in a festive Father Christmas outfit. (Geoff Caddick - WPA Pool/Getty Images)

On Thursday they visited a vaccination centre in Gloucestershire, and on Friday, Charles went to a museum and a Royal Mail sorting office in Cirencester to see how they were coping before Christmas.

Princess Anne is also in Gloucestershire, so she will be able to continue meeting people.

But all three royals will have a smaller radius to visit. They cannot enter Tier 3 areas, meaning London is off limits to the east, as are parts of Somerset to the west.

Charles could still pop into his duchy area though. Cornwall has remained in Tier 1 since the second national lockdown in England was eased at the end of November.

Charles is the Duke of Cornwall and usually makes several visits a year to the area, but has not been able to go to that part of the country as frequently in 2020.